Upfront: Who Are You, Joe Reason?


So there you are out there in Readerland, leafing through our monthly missive. What do you think of it? What do you think in general? And who are you, anyway?

Every couple of years we ask you—or at least a random sample of you. Based on your answers to our latest survey, we've come up with a composite portrait.

Call him Joe Reason. He is, first of all, a he (90 percent), probably married (60 percent), and prosperous ($46,000 average personal income). As you could guess from a typical Letters column, Joe may well live in California (19 percent of subscribers live here, followed by 8 percent in New York).

Joe is young (29 percent under 35; 58 percent under 45), well-educated (78 percent college graduates; 38 percent with a doctorate, master's, or professional degree), and works in a "professional specialty occupation" (33 percent)—a rather broad category that covers a multitude of sins, including journalism. Not yet a hard-core yuppie, Joe owns a VCR (68 percent) but probably no BMW (only 14 percent have German cars). And he's a pretty generous fellow, both with his money (83 percent give to charity) and time (33 percent do volunteer work).

Politically, he describes himself as a libertarian (58 percent, followed by 26 percent conservative). He opposes retaliatory import restrictions (88 percent), bans on "adult movies" on cable TV (80 percent), and the government's drug war (59 percent); he wants to privatize Social Security (81 percent). On foreign policy, he's fairly hawkish. He supports U.S. aid to the contras—both nonmilitary (54 percent) and military (46 percent, a plurality)—and he backs "Star Wars" (66 percent).

In REASON, Joe is most likely to read Brickbats (69 percent always read), followed by Editorials (61 percent), Trends (59 percent), and Viewpoint (52 percent). Lest we fear for his attention span, he assures us that he reads investigative articles (51 percent always read), public policy articles (48 percent), and cover stories (46 percent).

We asked about four cover stories, from February to May. Joe's favorite was "Real Life Behind China's Changes" (47 percent liked very much), his least favorite, the interview with Charlton Heston (24 percent). Among noncover stories, he praised Thomas Sowell's "Visions of Man" (48 percent).

When he's not perusing our pages, Joe reads history (60 percent) and fiction (58 percent)—including science fiction (39 percent) and mysteries (25 per cent)—as well as current affairs (52 percent) and philosophy (48 percent). Chances are, he reads a popular science magazine (46 percent) but not another "think magazine" (National Review topped the list at 24 percent).

So, Joe, it's nice to meet you. If there's anything else we should know, drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you.

Congratulations to REASON's editorial intern, James Taranto, who was a runner-up in the Institute for Humane Studies' Felix Morley Memorial Prize student journalism contest. James's Viewpoint appeared in the June issue, he has contributed to Trends for several months, and you can expect to hear more from him in future issues.